Unionist elements attempt to raise tension for political gain
Sinn Féin have claimed that that the orchestrated protests by unionists in the Huntley area on Tuesday and Thursday of this week were a deliberate attempt to create sectarian tensions as a platform for building a political profile.
Councillor Ward commented:
“As a local councillor I monitored the situation over the three day period and was in constant communication with the PSNI. While the flying of flags is a contentious issue, and one that needs to be addressed through dialogue, the reaction by unionist and loyalist elements to what was happening in the Peggy’s Loaning area were nothing more than an opportunistic attempt to create tensions for political gain.
Cllr Ward went on to point out that,
“The protests, orchestrated by unionists, have damaged the image of Banbridge as a friendly shopping town and have done nothing to promote the Council’s position as a contender for a leading role in the new super council.”
The Upper Bann MLA John O’Dowd who accompanied Cllr Ward in monitoring the situation on Thursday evening said,
“Sinn Féin would like to see a situation where tribalistic use of flags and bonfires is no longer a part of our lives. However that situation can only be brought about by dialogue and the statutory agencies have a responsibility to implement an even-handed approach in creating the scenario for open and frank discussion around these and other contentious issues.”
The Assembly member commented on the policing of the situation saying,
“The PSNI have to be congratulated for their swift and effective policing of the protest. The protests at Huntley had the potential to turn into a situation similar to that which occurred in Coleraine earlier this year and which resulted in the death of an innocent man.” ENDS